April 23, 2013

Why we don’t care about the environment even though we care about our environment; or, how to save the world without really trying.

Bonus: Waylon’s Earth Day interview with Frances Moore Lappe.


Below, I try to just, you know, figure out everything all in one blog and solve our international crisis of inspiration and environment for us.

The Problem? We all care about our environment but not enough or in the right way and this planet is going to hell in a hand basket but it’ll probably hit our children and grandchildren the hardest.

The Solution? Is us. Leave a comment if so inspired at the bottom of this post. ~ ed.

The problem:

We all care about the environment, our environment, upon which we all depend. Everyone loves elephants and tigers and flowers and blue sky and green grass and clean air. No one likes cancer or landfills or plastic islands. Everyone wants a beautiful back yard and hikes and parks and efficient cars and dishwashers and clothes made by human beings, not slaves or children. Republicans in the Midwest or the Rockies, for chrissake, have more photos of majestic, god-given nature on their walls and calendars than do liberals in college towns.

So we all care.

But none of us care enough to read up on climate change, or elephants dying, or the cancer that our pesticides on our grass lawns create. Or we don’t have time to cook or garden or bicycle or walk. Or we don’t want to read depressing articles about what’s going wrong.

In other words, we all care, but we don’t care enough.

…or, rather, we don’t care in the right way. We want to care in an empowered, effective way. And that’s good. That makes rational sense.

But too often that slacktivism (don’t click that link, it’ll take too long) option doesn’t exist, and awareness is all we’re left with…and awareness of what’s depressing at the end of a long day calls for truly altruistic folks…and there aren’t enough such. And even if we were all bequeathed with bleeding hearts, reading blogs about green and gaining awareness isn’t enough. It’s the beginning, the inspiration, but it’s not the execution, the action, the change we all have been waiting for.

The solution isn’t, quite:

One solution is to, a la Oprah or Jon Stewart or Earth Hour, make the whole do-goodery thing fun, funny, interesting, inspiring, moving, shocking. To coat the medicine with a ball of chocolate, in other words. But that’s only as effective as the seductive powers of said sex, humor, inspiration…and even then, all we’re left with is the first step: knowledge, or inspiration. A good start, but still just a good start, not a solution.

Some sites, like change.org or Credo, involve petitions. Enough of us sign, we can show someone what The People want, and then maybe someone will change the world. I like it, but it’s not enough. It needs to be official-like—like the White House Petition site, where we know the folks in charge will do something. Unfortunately, even then, the White House is just saying they’ll look at it and reply, not necessarily do something, and even then, they’re one of five power bases in DC. Just one of five (executive, legislative, judicial, media & now corporations or lobbyists).

So my solution is, well…

…what Lester Brown told me: media. Media is the key. And by media, he meant communication. So education could be included in that. And politics could be included in that—anything that creates mass awareness, followed by change. So when I see Jamie Oliver focusing about obesity in a mainstream top-rated reality TV show that results in more funding for real food in school lunches, I’m heartened. When I see Michael Pollan on the best-seller lists, and farmers markets triple in number year after year, I’m heartened. When I see Germany at 50% renewable power as a nation, I’m heartened. When I see the sales of bicycles double year after year, I’m heartened.

But it’s obviously not enough.

We’re a crash test dummy, as a civilization, heading for a brick wall, about to die.

So what can we do?

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